Heading for Extinction Yesterday I was speaking to David Loy, the author of ecodharma. We were talking about what Buddhism is for and David reminded me of Yun Men’s answer to the question, “What are the teachings of a whole lifetime?”
What was Yun Men’s reply? “An appropriate response.”
In the present day the greatest challenge we face is the climate crisis, caused by humans and the sixth mass extinction, caused by humans. Can Buddhism support us to make an appropriate response? David suggested that it can, that our practices can resources us to take action, and support activists to have faith. That as well as being the cause of great harm – the virus – we can also provide a solution – become the antibodies.
We also talked about the importance of not being attached to outcomes. Of the value of taking right action for it’s own sake. If you’re not sure how serious the climate crisis is, or want more information, watch this video: Heading for Extinction.Thanks to Suzanne from our local XR group, who gave this talk at the temple on Saturday night. This is probably being given in person at your local XR group, so do check that out as well.
Tradition in Pureland Buddhism The last time I wrote to you I said a few words about honesty. Today I want share some lines about something else that we value here at the temple: tradition. I’ve posted about it on Friends of Amida. Click here to read.
Bodhi Day From Wed 4th til Sun 8th we’ll be celebrating the Buddha’s awakening. There will be talks from our teachers, including Dharmavidya, discussions, practice sessions, ceremonies and a twenty four hour chanting session. Drop us a line for more information.
I feel nervous as I write to you – because I am exposing some of my vulnerability, because you might not agree with or like what I’m going to say, and because this is deeply important to me. I hope you’ll hear me out.
A few weeks ago I attended my first Extinction Rebellion meeting here in Malvern. I listened to a lecture about the state of our planet, including all the science. I noticed feeling a few moments of sadness at what I heard, and then I came home and got on with my evening.
My layers of denial were still pretty much in place. I have known the facts about climate change for a long time, and I always believed them in theory – I just didn’t quite see them as applying to me. I see myself as living quite simply, and so felt I was already ‘doing my bit’. I trusted that action would be taken by others. Or I just didn’t dwell on it.
Over the next couple of weeks I read the Extinction Rebellion Handbook. My denial started to crack. As I read on, I felt shock, guilt and fear. Every time I sat down to read it, something made me weep. I began to lose sleep.
Now, a month on, I am still deep in a process of waking up. As Kaspa wrote in his recent article, I also have a mix of feelings. Alongside grief for the earth and all her inhabitants, I am in lot of turmoil about what I am willing to surrender.
Some of this turmoil is about big things – will I ever fly again after the flight I have booked? Am I willing to be arrested in a civil disobedience action? And, if I’m honest, many smaller things are causing me just as much (if not more) pain. Can I still drive Aiko for walks on the common? How will I handle that person I don’t like at the meetings? If we try to stop buying plastic, will I never eat a vegan Magnum again?
As a planet, we haven’t made the changes we need to because we are bombu. We are deeply driven by our greed, hate and delusion, and we are terrified of letting go of our big or little securities. These little securities help us deal with the big fears – of sickness, of helplessness, of the death of our loved ones and of our own death.
There is another way. We can come together as a community, a sangha made of many sanghas, and support each other as we grieve and as we decide on what we can do next. We can take wisdom and courage from the Buddha’s teachings. And more than anything, we can remember that we are held by the Buddha, who will be there for us even if we do become extinct. He’ll be there with us up to the very last second and beyond.
If you’re ahead of me, if you are deep in this process yourself, or if you’d like to know more, I’d love to hear from you. Write to me.
Sending warm blessings from the temple, with deep gratitude for our sangha,
In today’s newsletter: I write about one the values of Amida Mandala, honesty; a video of Satya’s talk ‘Nothing to Lose‘; and an invitation to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the temple.
Honesty A few newsletters ago Satya wrote about ‘what we value’ and ‘what we offer’. You can see the list on the front page of the temple website. Today I want to say something about honesty.
What kind of honesty do we value? Self-honesty.
Recognising the deep currents of thought, feeling and habit that run through us helps us to stay grounded, and helps us to have compassion for other beings as we recognise that we are all in the same boat. Beginning to understand our own foolishness allows us to treat the foolishness of others more kindly.
Being honest with ourselves can bring us closer to the light of the Buddha. The Buddha’s light is loving and sees us just as we are. To the extent that we are afraid to see ourselves as we really are, we shy away from the light of the Buddha.
There is a circular process at work here. Faith in the loving presence of the Buddha allows us to feel less afraid of ourselves and to see our harmful habits more clearly, and seeing ourselves more clearly brings us closer to the Buddha.
As we come close to the Buddha we are more likely to experience the ease that the Buddha’s light brings.
Nothing to Lose You can watch Satya’s talk ‘Nothing to Lose’ on YouTube. This is part of our monthly series of Saturday morning talks. We’re taking a break from these for the summer, so the next one will be in October.
It’s nearly been five years! We’re celebrating our fifth anniversary on Saturday November 30th. The invitation is open to anyone who has attended any temple event, even once. Put the date in your diary now 🙂 There’ll be a performance from the temple choir, a bring and share lunch, a mindful walk in the afternoon, and the chance to celebrate. More details on Facebook.
Last week Kaspa & I had our quarterly temple meeting in our local park. We sat under a tree and talked about what’s really important to us in our Dharma work, and what we think this particular temple does best. We brainstormed huge lists of desirable qualities and the things we offer, and chose those we felt a heart connection with.
So here’s who we are:
We value honesty, tradition, community, integrity, a sense of humour and kindness.
We offer a warm welcome, refuge, learning and growth, devotional practice, inspiration, and the spirit of being accepted ‘just as you are’.
One of our reasons for doing this was to be clearer with ourselves about who we ARE, and who we AREN’T. There’s no point in attracting lots of people to the temple with self-help techniques or promises of a secular practice or philosophy, as that’s just not what we offer here. If devotional practice just isn’t your thing, that’s fine – it’s better that we release you to go and find somewhere that suits you better – we’re happy for you to unsubscribe 🙂
If these lists resonate with you, then hurray! If you’re local, come to a regular service or one of ourevents. Watch Kaspa’s recent brilliant Dharma talk ‘Eat Sleep Pray Repeat‘(he’s my husband and I’m biased, but it is a good one). Join my new mailing list for the Anjali Amida sangha, a group especially for those who’d like to join us at online events (Facebook, Skype etc), by replying to this email with ‘anjali’. Reply to this email and say hello, ask a question or let us know how you are.
We love what we do, and it makes us happy when people join us. We’ve received something very precious and we want to pass it on. Namo Amida Bu.
Talking of trees, Kaspa organised Buddhist Action Month this month and if you’d like to plant a tree for £6 as a way of off-setting carbon, the details are all below or just click here.
Sending blessings from here, Satya (& Kaspa) <3
Our colleague Amitasuri says: “Buddhist Action Month is a time for taking your practice off the cushion and into the world. It’s a time for reflecting on the form our compassion takes, for celebrating what we are already doing and for asking ourselves to do more. The theme for 2019 is Climate Action – Personal Action.
As well as our efforts to reduce carbon emissions (draw down), it is important that we find ways to offset carbon emissions we’ve already made (by flying, driving, using fuel at home or at work etc).
Trees for Life have set us up a Grove in the Scottish Highlands, to which we can contribute, for Buddhist Action Month 2019. It is £6 per tree, and it takes around 4 trees to offset 1 tonne of carbon.
Eg. if you have caused 2 tonnes of carbon emissions through fuel you’ve used at home, you would need to plant (at least 4 trees per tonne =) 8 trees. 8 trees at £6 = £48
Please bear in mind that planting trees is no substitute for cutting down our carbon emissions in the first place.
Tree planting is a valuable practice to remove carbon from the atmosphere that is already up there. It’s also good for sucking out carbon that we just can’t avoid emitting for some reason. Remember though, that the world needs to draw more down than we put up!
We’re a few days into 2019 now, and while I’m still officially off work – or not seeing clients, at least – I wanted to let you know about January events in the temple. These include the first of our new monthly talks next weekend. This time Satya is talking about Connecting with Joy.
If you want to hear about events through your email. Sign up to our newsletter, and make sure you tick to receive the ‘local’ newsletter as well as the general one. You can sign up here.
Sat 12th 10.30am til 11.30am Connecting with Joy: Dharma talk by Satya. Suitable for beginners or experienced practitioners, with time for discussion, questions and nembutsu. A good place to start if you are new to the temple. Facebook event here.
Sat 12th 5pm til 6pm Online Nembutsu Circle – a Pureland Buddhist reading followed by an opportunity to share, and some nembutsu chanting at the end. Use Skype to join – search on Skype for Amida Shu or firstname.lastname@example.org, or message Satya with any questions.
Sat 19th 9am til 10am Buddhist service for First Timers. Our usual Saturday morning service, tweaked to make it easier to follow for those who’ve never been before and those who haven’t been for a while. Facebook event here.
Sat 19th 10.30am til 11.30am Taking Care of the Temple. A chance to offer something back to the temple and the community with some cleaning, gardening, or whatever the temple needs. We’ll find you a job you feel comfortable with. A good way to connect with the community.
Tues 22nd 7.30pm til 8pm Online Nembutsu Practice – a chance to hear a Dharma talk and practise alongside your host. Held via Facebook Live at the Amida Mandala group page.
Sat 26th 10.30am – 12 midday Malvern Temple Community Choir. Our lovely drop-in Buddhist choir, singing rounds and Indian-influenced music, open to all abilities. Led by choirmaster Andrew Cheffings. Email email@example.com for more information or visit the site.And of course, our weekly schedule continues as normal, and although we do hold special first-timers or beginners events sometimes. You are welcome to come along to anything, first time or not.
There’s a lot for the temple to be grateful for this year.
People have joined us here at the temple for practice, soaking our shrine room in nembutsu. Our Temple Task Force have volunteered for crucial jobs around the house and garden. Sangha members have offered talks to schools and residential homes, run study groups, led mindful walks on the hills, run a choir, run a Sunday school and helped out in a myriad of ways. We’ve sponsored a toilet in Africa and paid for various expensive building repairs.
This makes the Buddha very happy.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed – whether you send us good thoughts or tackle the compost or contribute financially or wash the mugs up after service. It all goes into the pot.
We’re looking forward to a year of gentle growth next year – maybe you’ll be one of the newcomers or old friends soaking up light from our shrine room. We hope so.
Sanzen are twenty minute one-to-one meetings with Satya and/or Kaspa for a ‘spiritual check-in’ – you can ask a question, talk about your practice at home, ask for spiritual direction with a specific situation, or just see what emerges.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book one of the free slots below, or if you can’t make these times we can find another time.
On the day either ring the bell or if you’re already inside go directly to Satya or Kaspa’s office. Satya’s office is at the bottom of the whole building (go down two flights of steps and into our hallway and the office is straight ahead). Kaspa’s is on the lower ground floor (one flight of steps down) at the far end of the building on the left hand side.
Our Bodhi retreat is the annual gathering of Amida Shu and a rare and precious opportunity to spend time with other sangha members, practising together, listening to Dharma talks and eating and talking together. This year it will take place in our temple in Malvern.
This year the retreat will be run by the Head of our Order, Dharmavidya David Brazier. You can attend any stand-alone days or the whole retreat. The rough schedule will be:
Thursday & Friday – services at 8am and 8pm. Morning and afternoon sessions – a mixture of Dharma talks, discussion and practice.
Saturday – all day continuous nembutsu with a ceremony in the evening.
Sunday – a ceremony in the morning and possibly a session in the afternoon.
Cost – £10 a day for food plus dana for Dharmavidya and the temple (a suggested £15 a day or whatever you can afford, whether that’s more or less).
Booking is essential so we can prepare to cater etc – email email@example.com with any questions and bookings. We have no accommodation at the temple – I have a list of local B&Bs etc.
Yesterday I gave away a paperback copy of ‘Just As You Are: Buddhism for Foolish Beings’. Today I am giving away twenty boxes – or however many you want – through the magic of electricity & the World Wide Web.
If you don’t have a kindle, search for ‘Amazon Kindle app’ for a nifty free app so you can read it on your phone or PC.
This book is intended as an introduction to our form of Pureland Buddhism, Amida Shu Buddhism. It’s for anyone who wants to live a good life but is tired of endlessly trying to perfect themselves.
Pureland Buddhism takes a realistic view of our foolish natures as human beings, and offers us an alternative to the ‘do it yourself’ self-help movement. With anecdotes of temple life and instructions for simple Pureland practices, the authors introduce us to this ancient and unique tradition of Buddhism and show us how it can make a powerful difference to our everyday lives.
Covering topics such as trust, overcoming suffering, grace, being kind and self-care, the book also contains the voices of different Pureland Buddhists speaking of their own diverse experiences. This book shows us how we are all loveable just as we are, and that understanding this is the key to deep and lasting change.
“This book will not give you a do-it-by-numbers self-help, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-effort ladder to climb. Here two good people have written a lovely book about faith and practice, which explains their own journey and many aspects of Pureland Buddhism in terms that are easy to understand. It will remind you of the love that is already there and the refuge that is already at hand. It will invite you to celebrate it and to do so in company with others similarly inspired. In doing so, it will welcome you home to a place of peace where all is completely assured. A wonderful contribution to the growth of the Buddhist community.”
– David Brazier
If you’re not a foolish being (or if you know any) please feel free to share it. If you find it helpful, that will make me & co-author Kaspalita happy. Also, we always appreciate short reviews as they do make a difference. Enjoy!
“I’ve found this beautiful book highly readable, it’s full of humanity. I wanted to learn some fundamentals of Buddhism and how to incorporate them into my life. Reading the accounts in this book have helped my own life to become more simple, more informed, more graceful…. And more forgiving and understanding of myself and others, which is quite a big deal for me, and yet the pages flowed through my fingers, the words never troubled my mind, I felt warm, inspired and encouraged by this book and my experience of living is richer for it. I’ll be visiting this book again.” Valerie